Sprint queen Cindy Stewart is looking to continue her winning streak when she lines up for the 100-metre dash at the Yellow Pages Series meeting in Pretoria on Friday evening, writes Mark Etheridge.
The Port Elizabeth based sprinter was beaten just once on the national circuit last year when she lost out to up and coming sprinter Justine Palframan in the 200m at the Durban leg of the series.
Already she’s got 2011 off to a flying start, clocking 25.54sec in the 200m at the opening meeting of the series in Potchefstroom last weekend.
On Friday she’ll be out to stay unbeaten in the 100m, like she did for the entire year last year.
“I had a really successful season last year,” said 25-year-old Stewart from PE where she’s in her final year of a B Com (marketing management) degree at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
“I also won both the 100 and 200m at SA champs in Durban, making me the fastest women in SA for 2010. It’s still so unbelievable for me but it is an amazing feeling. I also competed in the Yellow Pages summer series and won the 60m and 150m at the Stellenbosch and Parow meets and won the female athlete of the series award.”
It’s early days in the current season so the Chris Doubell-coached athlete reckons she’ll be happy with anything under 12 seconds in Pretoria on Friday.
Further down the line she’s looking to better her best times for the sprints (11.55 and 23.38sec) and there’s also the question of the All Africa Games and IAAF World Track and Field Championships to consider.
Meanwhile, if Stewart will be the one to beat in the women’s sprints the men’s events are far more open. Ordinarily, in both the 100 and 200m Simon Magakwe and Thuso Mpuang were the ones to beat.
But with the introduction of heats and finals at the Yellow Pages Series, the stars are no longer guaranteed a lane in the final. This was made very clear in Potchefstroom when neither Mpuang nor Magakwe made the final line-up of the 200m, being eliminated in the heats. Rather, young Roscoe Engel from Tygerberg who was the fastest on the day.
The 21-year-old was part of the bronze medal winning relay team of South Africa at the 2008 World Junior Championships. Leigh Julies and Sergio Mullins were too strong for him in the Yellow Pages Athletics meetings in December over the shorter sprints, but his personal best of 33.81 in the 300m behind 400m specialist Sibusisi Sishi shows the class of the young Capetonian.
With Yellow Pages having spiced up the 2011 campaign with a R200┬á000 Pot of Gold incentive to be shared by athletes who set South African senior records during the eight Yellow Pages-sponsored events, SA’s athletics stars will be out to get their share of the honours.